Vocational training is a key ingredient to the growth of local Lake County economy. Efforts are underway to diversify our economy such as the opening of Lake Tech’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing in Eustis, the Health Sciences Collegiate Academy in Clermont, and other educational programs coordinated through Lake-Sumter State College and the University of Central Florida.
I’ve found at least three reasons why vocational training is important to Lake County’s economy. First, it makes Lake County more marketable in the global economy. When a manufacturing company is expanding or relocating, the locational options are plentiful. These days, everybody is marketing to win manufacturing and technology business. Lake must have something better than houses to offer and a service sector employment base.
Developing a skilled workforce or one that can become skilled quickly through educational programs won’t ensure we win every company, but it makes Lake more competitive and attractive compared to our competition. When a manufacturing company relocates to Lake or chooses to expand in Lake, average wages increase in our county thus expanding some measures of true prosperity.
Second, vocational training improves business productivity. A well-trained worker reduces on-the-job training costs and money lost fixing mistakes. The savings in turn is reinvested in the business. Lake Tech is considering offering efficiency training courses such as Lean 6-Sigma. Imagine the results if Lake County’s business culture became renowned for both continuous process improvement and personal career growth.
Finally, vocational training is inclusive. Sadly, we sometimes look down on those who are unemployed or considered the working poor. We may ask, “Why can’t they just help themselves?” Vocational training provides a path for anyone who is willing to receive relevant skill training in an emerging or growing Lake County industry such as machining, welding, or nursing. Traditional college isn’t for everyone, and that’s OK!
Vocational training can be a path for anyone in Lake County to receive skills relevant in today’s market economy. That same person can go on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Lake-Sumter State College or UCF, and then move on to advanced degrees. And I would argue, that person might actually be more valuable in the work force than a person who traveled the traditional route.
I am excited to see Lake Tech and Lake-Sumter State College working together to provide a clear path to prosperity for residents and future residents of Lake County. And whether that path ends with a good paying vocational career or leads to advanced degrees and larger salaries, our county is clearly better off.